To a spokesman for the machine tool industry has been attributed a statement that the only modern machines are those built after 1946; most others are pre-1935 vintage, he said.
With all respect to the improvements made in new model machine tools it is obvious to anyone with a working knowledge of both the very latest types and those built during the past ten years, that the statement is somewhat exaggerated.
The manufacturer cannot be blamed for his pride in his new models; but except for improvements in automatic equipment (controls) and in general appearance, the average 1950 model is fundamentally the same as machines which have been in operation for a number of years.
There is no need for manufacturers to cast aspersions on their last year’s models. You don’t catch General Motors (conceded to be smart merchandisers) talking about how quaint the 1935 Cadillac has become. Not on your life. They spend part of each year’s advertising appropriation telling how many of the 1935 models are still providing good service.
Our daily contacts are with people who buy and sell surplus industrial equipment. Their stock in trade is a practical knowledge of the difference between the current model machines and those which were built previously. When dealers select surplus machines for their stock, they must automatically eliminate those machines which are obsolete or which cannot be modernized economically.
Such dealers recognize the wisdom recently demonstrated by a steel mill which had in its plant a large machine tool which was 40 years old. To replace this tool would have meant an investment of $250,000. For a fraction of this amount, the enterprising management had the machine rebuilt and modernized by a dealer. Nine out of ten plant managers would have considered a forty-year-old machine a number one candidate for a historical museum, but not this Johnny-on-the- spot. He saved his firm nearly $200,000 in one crack.
Contrast this with the decision of another plant which was offered a 1940 model 60-inch lathe by a different dealer. Although the machine was almost identical with the latest model and was offered at only 60% of new cost, the buyer turned it down on the basis of age alone. He had been foolishly instructed to buy a machine built in 1944 or later.
These two extreme examples demonstrate the sound business practice of purchasing serviceable plant equipment which has been used in prior operations.
The fact that there are thousands of machines in various categories transplanted every month from one shop to another through the screening process of dealers and rebuilders proves that there are many plant operators in agreement with the steel mill manager mentioned above . . . that there are years of efficient operation built into well-constructed American machinery . . . and that the saving in capital investment more than offsets the lack of chromium-plated streamlining.
“Vintage” appropriately applies to wine and antiques—not to serviceable machinery. The unused potential in a machine which has had the average amount of care is unlimited, regardless of its age.